How to change careers and find deeper purpose – at any age
Do you feel like your life lacks direction? That you’re not really giving your all to your work? Spiritual career coach and author Rebecca Kirk reveals how to change careers and find deeper purpose – whatever your age.
Having a reason for being is one of the most profound needs we have as humans. The quest for purpose has long since been part of our evolutionary journey.
Over the past three years, in my coaching practice, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help in finding more purpose and fulfilment in their career.
I believe the extra headspace which the lockdowns provided many of us with, along with a more tangible awareness of our own mortality and an emerging sense of urgency to get on with things, have all contributed to this.
People are no longer prepared to just put up with a job which pays the bills but leaves them feeling hollow inside, and are asking themselves the question ‘is this all there is?’
What stops people from changing careers?
Despite this deep desire for purpose, there are still many people who feel stuck in their current job, even though a great many already possess the gifts and talents to make a successful career change. This, I believe, is largely ego and fear-based – fear of failing, fear of disapproval, fear of scarcity of jobs or clients or money, fear of succeeding and (the real killer) fear of not being good enough.
While you may be reading this article feeling raring to go with making a career change, underneath the surface there may be lurking some limiting beliefs and unconscious thought patterns which are keeping you stuck.
People also stay stuck because of a lack of clarity around what else they could actually do. They may have a feeling inside that there is something else out there they are meant to be doing but no way of figuring out what that specifically is. This often leads to frustration, inertia and repeating the same patterns such as going for the same job in a different company, hoping it will feel more fulfilling this time around.
Money is also often a key reason why people stay in a career which is unfulfilling. They don’t believe it is possible to earn the same money (or more) doing something they truly love or that there are enough good jobs out there which could sustain their lifestyle.
Entrepreneurship can be a very tempting route for many and a great fit with their values, but is often dismissed through fears around money and the ability to support oneself without the comfort of a more regular wage.
How to navigate your career crossroads and finding deeper purpose
If you’re looking to make a career change and find deeper purpose and you’re not sure where to start or you’re going round in circles overthinking everything, then it’s time to come at things from a different angle. And that’s where I recommend a holistic approach – one which combines practical steps along with some work on your mindset plus spiritual tools and solutions.
Spirituality is rarely discussed alongside career and yet it has so much to offer in terms of clarity, conviction and courage for the journey ahead.
Even if you are just spiritually-curious or simply open-minded, the suggestions below which have helped me and hundreds of my clients navigate their career crossroad might just make the different in helping you navigate yours.
You have an inbuilt guidance system which can bring a new dimension of clarity when you start to pay attention to it and act on it. What little whispers or nudges have you maybe had about the direction to take your career? Make a note in your journal and bravely start to listen to that voice.
Clarity cannot emerge from a cluttered mind. Drop any over-thinking and start creating headspace for ideas to start percolating and insights to start emerging. Meditation is a great practice for this, allowing you time and space to turn down the outer noise and connect within to your true self and the essence of who you are.
Consciously connect to the Universe (or whatever is meaningful to you) and ask for support and guidance on what your next career move is. Then, pay attention to any signs, messages, chance meetings or things which get put in your path which might be there to light your way.
Your Higher Self is the essence of who you are (your spirit, your soul, your divine nature) and it offers a counter to your Ego Self (that part of you which acts from fear and keeps you stuck). When you connect with your Higher Self, you connect with a source of courage, wisdom and deep self-worth. These are all vital ingredients for making a successful career change.
Explore your passions
The things you are passionate about are not random, they are connected to your calling and they deserve room to breathe. Pay attention to the types of books you are drawn to reading or the podcasts you are drawn to listening to and any activities which you are drawn to embarking upon.
Making space for your passions allows you to dip your toes in the water of a potential new career. This could be through volunteering with a charity or setting an evening aside each week for your creative hobby.
Acknowledge your gifts
What are those innate skills and strengths you maybe take for granted? What are you perhaps known for in your current job? Grab your journal and take an inventory of all of your gifts. And which of those gifts you would love to use in your next job. It is especially important to do this when you have been in the same role for many years and have potentially lost sight of your gifts.
Let go of any resistance
Call out any limiting beliefs or thought patterns which could stop you from making a career change. Create a new affirmation which, through daily repetition, reframes this limiting belief and helps reprogramme your brain. So a belief such as “I believe people will think I am silly for making a career change” might become “I believe I am brave to make a career change and will inspire people around me.”
Plan your finances
Money doesn’t need to stop you from making a career change if you properly plan your income and spending needs. Create a survival budget so you know your minimum monthly income requirement and then gauge how many weeks or months you can comfortably live using any savings.
You may need to start saving to give you this buffer and in order to make the switch or embark on any retraining or business set up.
You don’t need to change careers completely to find fulfillment
Remember, to feel more fulfilled you don’t have to make a complete career change. Your next move might be a sideways move towards a more fulfilling career by doing the same role in a new sector which is more aligned with what is truly important to you. Or a move into a new role with your current employer which is more akin to using your gifts or exploring your passions.
And you can find more fulfilment right where you are if you choose to show up to your job in a new way. For example, by being a vessel for more compassion, more empathy and more acceptance, you can also find a way to live with more purpose now.
Why you’re never to old to switch career
There is a commonly held belief that when you get to a certain age, it’s too late to make a career change. I have witnessed this in my coaching practice around the age of sixty right down to the age of thirty. When I made my last big career change into coaching in 2016, I did so at the age of forty-one.
Equally, I have had clients such as Sue who made the switch from pharmacist to art therapist also in her forties. And then there are famous examples such as Arnold Schwarzenegger who switched from acting into politics at 56. And Linda McCartney who went from photographer to setting up her vegetarian food company at 50.
The belief that you’re too old to make a career change is just that. A belief. Granted, some career options may be ruled out due to physiological reasons which come with age. As much as I would love to have begun a career as a tennis player back in my thirties, I knew that my body would not support me in this quest. But for the most part, it is entirely possible to make a change.
Consider how, later in life, you actually have so much more to offer such as your experience and extra skills and knowledge. Or greater resilience and wisdom to work around any challenges.
Gone are the days where you work for one company for life. In the digital age we are living in now there is more potential than ever to pivot your career and begin an entrepreneurial journey much later in life.
A parting message
If you’re currently feeling unfulfilled in your career and you have a sense there may be something else out there you’re meant to be doing, please listen to that voice. Because life is short and as the late, great author Wayne Dyer implored, “don’t die with your music still in you”.
Rebecca Kirk is a spiritual career coach and author who has enabled hundreds of clients to discover the clarity and confidence to navigate their career crossroads and awaken to a working life of greater purpose, peace and prosperity. She recently wrote her first book, You’re Here for a Reason, which is being released in September.